Nearly two-thirds of Brits say they do not want rich countries to get priority access to Covid-19 vaccinations over poorer ones, with a huge proportion of the world yet to administer a single life-saving dose.
Two-thirds of people questioned in the UK said that ministers should pressure pharmaceutical companies to share their coronavirus vaccine formula to facilitate the faster rollout of doses.
The poll, commissioned by Christian Aid, comes as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations’ children’s agency warned that just ten countries accounted for three-quarters of the 128 million vaccine doses administered worldwide.
Almost 130 countries – with a population totalling 2.5 billion – had yet to vaccinate anyone, they said.
“This self-defeating strategy will cost lives and livelihoods, give the virus further opportunity to mutate and evade vaccines, and will undermine a global economic recovery,” Henrietta Fore, executive director of Unicef, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said in a statement.
They called on governments that have vaccinated health workers and high-risk members of the populations to work together and share vaccine stocks. “We need global leadership to scale up vaccine production and achieve vaccine equity,” they said.
More than 180 countries have signed up to Covax, which is supported by the WHO and other international vaccine advocacy group. It aims to form countries into blocs to give them more more to negotiate with drug firms. The UK government has given £548 million to the programme.
The Christian Aid survey, carried out earlier this month, found that 63 per cent of respondents wanted to see nations working together to develop a vaccine programme that would not discriminate against developing countries. Just over one-in-ten disagreed.
Fionna Smyth, Christian Aid’s head of global advocacy and policy, said: “While international efforts to fund vaccines in the World Health Organization’s Covax programme have been helpful, the Covax vaccines are delayed and are not expected to reach adequate vaccine coverage in the countries where they are issued.
“Our best chance of all staying safe from Covid-19 is to have vaccines, tests and treatments that are available for all. This crisis needs governments and the big pharmaceutical companies urgently to raise their sights, to be imaginative and generous, and to act for the global good and deliver tangible results fast.”